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Local Leaders Fear Prop Tax Hikes from State Budget Changes

Chris Bolt

Onondaga County and other local governments are wondering how they’ll pay their bills if New York State follows through on a proposed budget cut.  Governor Cuomo is suggesting a new tax on internet purchases could take the place of some of the Aid and Incentives to Municipalities, which is an important chunk of local budgets that comes from Albany. 

He suggested money from local sales taxes could make up shortfalls. 

County Executive Ryan McMahon warned state legislators can’t go along.   

“You are voting for raising taxes if you’re taking our revenue, and what’s even more chilling is the fact that they’re trying to tell us how to spend our revenue,” said McMahon. “We share sales tax with the city of Syracuse. I don’t get to tell the mayor you’re going to go spend your money this way.”

Cities, towns and villages would all be affected. Officials estimate Clay would lose $400,000, Salina $300,000, and Camillus would be short almost $200,000.  Fayetteville Mayor Mark Olson said he worries about the local impact for a small savings for the state.

“Just to put it into perspective, it’s one tenth of one percent of the state budget. Think about that. You’re asking every village and every town and the county and city to have a tax increase because of one tenth of one percent,” said Olson.

Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh issued a statement in support of McMahon's call to oppose the reduction in AIM funding for cities. 

“The proposed budget amendment to apply new internet sales tax revenue to towns and villages acknowledges the serious problem created by the reduction in AIM funding. AIM is a critically important source of revenue to the city, so I understand why my counterparts in the towns and villages are so concerned. The state, however, should find another solution. I join with the County Executive and village mayors and town supervisors in asking our local state delegation to oppose the budget amendment and restore AIM to towns and villages.”

Officials said the proposed municipal-aid cut would be on top of increased local costs for policies such as early voting and bail-reform measures.  They added, most municipalities don’t run budget surpluses, so cuts in aid or increased costs mean reduced services or tax increases.  

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at